Politics and advertising
Monday, March 22nd, 2004
An overview of political blogads in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. (Userid/pw: blogads.) The lead is a fun one: “Who wouldn’t love this kind of payoff? Invest $2,000 in an obscure concept that has no track record and watch $80,000 pour into your bank account in a mere three weeks. Bonus: The money helps win you a congressional seat.”
“An obscure concept that has no track record”… hmm, I wonder if we should trademark that?
Friday, I spent an amazing day at George Washington University’s internet and politics conference.
The highpoint was the final debate: is the Internet best used as a tool for control and organization or as a tool for individuals to express their automony and/or self-organize? Zack Exley of Moveon.org and Phil Hendon of RightMarch.com spoke pro-control against David Weinberger and Markos Moulitas laid out the case that the web’s anarchic or self-organizing principles are more powerful.
Although Prof. Weinberger pounded the table and shouted at the gathered 300 consultants and poohbahs, “I am not a consumer of your political products, I am a citizen!” the general debate was alarmingly civil; both camps ended up saying “we agree with the other guys, the web is about top-down organization and self-organization.”
To hell with moderation! To round out the dialectical dance, I argued that the either control or self-organization will win; either we’ll have politics a la Microsoft or open source.
Why? The dominant model will achieve network effects and squeeze the second model out. Which is to say: the model that has the most participants and delivers the maximum benefit to those participants will, ta-da!, attract the most participants. And if it will be either/or, the open source model will win.
The session on advertising focused purely on ad units, I guess because this is the currency of exchange that advertisers purchase from publishers. But this agency-and-publisher-centric view misses a key point: an effective message must be composed of an ad unit AND the landing page. Either piece alone fails or underperforms.
One participant asked: what’s the standard unit of political advertising — the banner, the sky-scraper, the popup? Good question. If you measure in terms not of dollars spent but of total number of candidates and causes, the standard unit of political advertising in this election cycle is the blogad: 150X 200 pixels & 300 characters of text. Anyone want to prove me wrong?
Two final points:
Welcome to The American Prospect Magazine, the latest magazine selling blogads. As a fellow journalist used to say as a deadline loomed: three is a trend.